Review: Silent Symmetry (The Embodied Trilogy #1) by J.B. Dutton

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Title: Silent Symmetry
Author: J.B. Dutton
Format: Paperback and eBook
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: 194
ISBN: 978-1484067468
Source: Author
Genre: YA Sci-Fi / Fantasy
Series: The Embodied Trilogy
Best Read in Order: yes
Stars: 4
Purchase Now:  Amazon § Barnes&Noble

About the Book:

The Embodied glide through the busy streets of New York, uttering barely a sound. Their eerie beauty comes from their perfect symmetry. Are they flawless humans, the epitome of evolution? Are they a genetically modified super-race? Are they extra-terrestrials? Once prep school student Kari Marriner becomes aware of their existence, she is driven to seek out the answer and finds herself ensnared in a web that reaches further than she could possibly have imagined.

Kari’s earliest memory is her father’s death in a car crash back in small-town Wisconsin. Now, 12 years later, her mother has been hired by a pseudo-religious organization in Manhattan called the Temple of Truth (a.k.a. the ToT). At Chelsea Prep, Kari develops a crush on classmate Cruz. But when she realizes that Noon, another attractive guy at school, is involved with the ToT, her curiosity gets the better of her.

Kari stumbles upon a secret tunnel leading from her apartment to another in the building, where an ancient book holds images she can scarcely believe, and a cavernous room contains… something inexplicable. As Kari pieces together the incredible evidence, she discovers that the ToT is run by other-worldly beings called The Embodied who influence human behavior and have established a global long-term human breeding program. But why? And what is her role in all this?

Just as she starts wondering whether the love she feels for Cruz is genuine or if her emotions are being controlled by The Embodied, her mother is kidnapped and Kari has to figure out who is human, who is Embodied, and who she can count on to help rescue her mother.

Book Review:

Kari and her mother move to New York City for a new prestigious position, after leaving her small Wisconsin town and memories of her father’s accident there behind. For a teenaged protagonist, Kari was easy to relate to and care for: her sad past and her eagerness to find the new life, opportunities and possible love interests for her mother were endearing. As with many things, nothing is ever quite what it seems, and that also relates to the wonderful opportunities: scholarship to a prestigious high school, the beautiful people and the ease with which they seem to incorporate a major metropolis into their lives without great distress.

As Kari starts to feel seeds of unease, the questions start to arrive in a fast and furious manner: although the answers are far less apparent. Just what is the ToT and just how much influence it has on this world, and on the live of the people who work for them is a slow-developing reveal, mixed in this smoothly paced story that demands you read on.

I will be the first to admit that Kari is often far more mature in her approach, speech, thinking and behavior than one would expect, or want to see in a high school teen. However, when you take into account her life experience and her only child status, it did fit her well, even as it may be problematic for some readers. Aside from that and my wishing that there was more of an explanation and solidity built to give more substance to the characters of the Embodied, I did enjoy this read. I think that many YA fans would appreciate this story, and be ready to read the second book in the trilogy when it comes available.

I received an eBook from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
About the Author:

After graduating from film school in London, I emigrated to Montreal in 1987, where I still live with my two young children and their even younger goldfish. I spent over a decade as a music TV director before moving into the advertising industry as an award-winning copywriter and translator. In parallel to my corporate work, I’ve written novels, short stories, blogs, screenplays and a stage play. I also write Young Adult and Children’s fiction under the name J.B. Dutton.

Website § @johnbdutton

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Review Unprotected Sax by Tony McFadden

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Title:  Unprotected Sax
Author:  Tony McFadden
Contributor: Charles McFadden
Format: Paperback and eBook
Publisher:  Self-Published
Pages: 372
ISBN: 978-1481073783
Source: Author
Genre: Thriller / Mystery
Stars: 4
Purchase Now:  Amazon  § Barnes&Noble § BooksAMillion

About the Book:
Playing sax in his friend’s jazz band was supposed to be relaxing.

Then his friend disappeared.

Johnny Delacourte, (aka JD, Johnny D, The Sax Machine and a few choice others) left the Army Rangers and the battlefields of Afghanistan six months ago. He reconnected with friends in Miami, dusted off his saxophone and started learning how to relax again. With his best friend on drums and a delightlful vocalist in front of him, life was settling into a comfortable pattern.

Then the friend disappears, the cops don’t seem to care and the Russian mob is all over his ass.

Miami was always hot in August. It just got hotter.

Book Review:

This book was a fun romp with a feel of a Where’s Waldo illustration; only we are trying to find Paul – before everyone else does, to his detriment. Add in the art-deco and slightly decadent feel of Miami, the steam of the Everglades, a jazz trio and a series of unfortunate events and you are starting to crack open the joys within.

What makes this so different is that we know who committed the murder: all of the story’s tension hang on the witness and drummer Paul, his disappearance and whether he will be found, alive, to testify. Diving right in with several point of view changes narrated by different characters does make for a tricky start, but then the pacing settled with some deliciously clever sidelines that allow for time to breathe and just enjoy the world that McFadden is building.

With so many characters, there were some gaps in their development: but the main players in the story (the band) and one slightly depraved and crooked cop are defined fairly clearly and solidly. Dialogue in this book is both fast paced and well written, with an eye to sarcasm and some humor it often served to help define a sense of the characters. While I found some issues, this story was unique and the climax was a slow build to a satisfying ending that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I received an eBook copy from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About the Author:

Tony McFadden is a transplanted Canadian living in the Northern Beaches area of Sydney, Australia.Currently working on #8, an as yet to be titled sci-fi/pseudo paranormal thriller, he has just published “Unprotected Sax”, in the same universe as “Book ‘Em” and “Family Matters”, adding to his portfolio of “Daly Battles: The Fall of Pyongyang”, “Matt’s War”, “G’Day L.A.” and “G’Day USA”.

Website  § @tony_mcfadden

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Review: Mental Pause by Anne O’Connell

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Title: Mental Pause
Author: Anne O’Connell
Format: Paperback and eBook
Publisher: Self Published
Pages: 228
ISBN: 978-0984927227
Source: Author
Genre: Contemporary Woman’s Fiction
Stars: 4
Purchase Now: Amazon § Barnes&Noble

About the Book:
Abbie Slocum, a forty-something, average, middle of the road, housewife and mother of teenage twin boys, tries desperately to keep her outwardly idyllic life together while spiralling into a dark pit of menopausal insanity. Her mind races with suicidal, murderous thoughts so outside of her normal character that it frightens her. The only person she can share the graphic images from her hormonally addled mind with is her best friend, Rachel, recently separated, and the mysterious and titillating Joan, a new friend from Rachel’s singles support group.

Women have survived this female passage of life since the beginning of time! Why was Abbie having so much trouble handling it? As the battle to maintain her sanity rages on, Abbie, Rachel and Joan stumble into unfortunate, borderline comical, circumstances that lead to wild nights, experimenting with drugs and two suspicious deaths. Abbie’s cop husband, Conrad, tries desperately to understand what’s happening to his normally sweet wife. While vying for promotion, his family gets embroiled in a media frenzy that swirls around a murder trial in which Abbie is the primary suspect. Abbie takes the reader on an old jalopy ride of uncharacteristic outbursts and wild escapism that leads to tragedy and finally, into court where she just might have to plead ‘temporary insanity’.

Book Review:

This debut offering from independent author Anne O’Connell is poignant, funny, shocking and provides a moment of “maybe I’m NOT the crazy one here” for readers. Abbie is peri-menopausal with all of the symptoms that are alluded to, but never wholly defined or described to women in a way that every reader can empathize, sympathize or nod their head in agreement. Wholesale personality changes have taken over the formerly competent and functional wife and mother, and no one seems to understand why: least of all her.

Sometimes completely sobering then venturing into almost farcical situations, Abbie and her cohorts wander into situations and circumstances as they ‘go with’ their curiosity and let their impulses take command of their adventures. Unfortunately, being the chief suspect in a murder trial doesn’t soothe Abbie’s frayed emotions or ally her symptoms, and everyone is wondering if she truly is insane.

Mixing humor, real life symptoms and extreme reactions, O’Connell manages to create Abbie into a character that speaks to many, stronger than she appears yet wholly fragile and driven by impulses that she doesn’t always understand she is delightfully wacky and fun while still maintaining a sense of realness. The outrageous circumstances behind the murder charge, and the husband that is a cop and completely confused but trying to be supportive are well-played and keep the reader entertained even as we know that she is not the murderer. Friends also play a large part in this story: finally at the point where women are less about ‘competition’ and more about support and real friendship – it was nice to see a portrayal of female relationships that didn’t digress into mean-girl syndrome: where the bond and the support were more important to all of the friends.
I received an eBook copy from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About the Author:
Author and freelance writer, Anne O’Connell, has been an expat since 1993 when she and her husband escaped the cold of Toronto, Canada and moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They enjoyed the sun and sand for 14 years, while she worked in the PR field, and then decided it was time for a new adventure. Heading for even more sun and sand, they moved to Dubai in late 2007 and then on to Thailand in 2011.
Anne has been working as a freelance copywriter, writing coach and consultant since 2007, specializing in social media, marketing, corporate communications and public relations. She is a regular contributor to Global Living Magazine and Expat Focus. In between clients she squeezes in time for her newly found passion – writing fiction. She and her husband have a passion for travel as well and that adventurous spirit has taken them all over the world. Anne grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia and has a bachelor of public relations from Mount St. Vincent University. She is the author of @Home in Dubai… Getting Connected Online and on the Ground; 10 Steps to a Successful PR Campaign – a Do-it-Yourself Guide for Authors; and Mental Pause, her first novel.

Website § Blog § @annethewriter § Facebook § Google+

 

 

 

 

Review: Vanguard of Hope: Sapphire Brigade Book 1 by Kathy Steinemann

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Title: Vanguard of Hope
Author: Kathy Steinemann
Format: eBook
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: 313
ISBN: 978-0988089754
Source: Author
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Sapphire Brigade # 1
Stars: 3
Purchase Now:  Amazon § Barnes&Noble § iBooks CA § Smashwords § Kobo

About the Book:

LISETVILLE, 1890 — Murders are committed; homes are burned; family secrets are buried; an unexpected romance complicates lives. Amid the mystery and violence, a vigilante brigade emerges to administer justice.

Flowing through the intrigue and drama is a dark undercurrent that will touch your heart as you empathize with the victims.

Book Review:

I apologize in advance, but this will not read like one of my normal reviews. I just couldn’t bring it together in a cohesive format, and I am still undecided about my final feelings on the story. Firstly, Steinemann has crafted a story that is told in diary-entry from, which provides an interesting point of view to the story, although it is not without difficulties. There is a great deal of confusion and time hop in this story, that don’t really ground it solidly in any timeframe. While some of the current issues spoke greatly to the late 19th century, societal conventions, speech and even the concern with the issues raised were not even present at that time in most of society, not to any great extent. This misalignment of terms to time and the reactions kept me unsure of the date and not able to comfortably believe in the trials the characters were facing.

There was also no truly clear grounding to place in this story: the blurb starts in the south, but there are several passages in British English, using a ‘marriage to an English man’ as the justification. If these passages were meant to derive an ‘otherness’ for the character, it was not effective. Lastly, vigilante justice was neither a concept nor a term used until more recently. Frontier justice possibly, but vigilante-ism is a more modern construct. Several other instances of modern language and use appear, marring the feel of the story and keeping date/time confusion the most memorable part of the story.

Sadly, this was a struggle for me to read: the action, questions and romance may have been more compelling had I found a solid sense of place and time before the conflicts in plot points appeared to throw me. Now, being perfectly aware that much of this could be entirely my prejudice I did try to find the positives that struck me as unusual or unique and well done. Hope, as a main character was far more modern and sophisticated than many of her time, although she is horribly damaged from abuses in her past. That leads to disconnected relationships, and ultimately her issues also affected my thoughts about her as a reader. Coming through strongly, however, is the tension and the questions that surround Hope and her thirst for retribution, losing her secrets and attempting to make a romantic connection with the most unlikely source. Those are compelling elements, and will please many readers who like suspense and darker themes to their reads.

I was provided with an eBook copy from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

 

About the Author:
Kathy Steinemann won provincial public speaking and writing awards during her early years, wrote the school news column for the community paper, and was a regular contributor to her high school newspaper.

She has always eagerly embraced new technological advances, creative projects, and continuing education. Her career has taken varying directions, including positions as editor of a community weekly, computer-network administrator, and webmaster. She has also worked on projects in commercial art and cartooning.

Website  §  Facebook  §  @KathySteinemann

 

Review: Syd and Marcy by Beaird Glover

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Title: Syd and Marcy
Author: Beaird Glover
Format: eBook
Publisher: Bugady Books
Pages: 177
ISBN: B00ATRJWT4
Source: Author
Genre: Crime Fiction, Thriller
Stars: 5
Purchase Now: Amazon

About the Book:

Marcy practices to be a great actor, but she isn’t pretending to kill people. Is the murder an audition for Hollywood, or is it reality?

When a ruthless detective is pitted against two self-centered scammers on the lam, it’s hard to tell whose side to be on. A femme fatale and her boyfriend are too wild to trust, but they just don’t know any better. According to the Old South, they must be punished.

The frenetic ride takes off that is not only Syd and Marcy’s escape from Memphis to the backwoods of Mississippi—it’s also a darkly comedic escape to Southern Gen X nihilism in a black Mustang on a dark road getting darker. Featuring a conflict between the Old South and the New, and written in a facile and succinct prose, Syd and Marcy spirals frankly through the realities and illusions of a culture on the rails.

Book Review:

In this viscerally impacting story laden with descriptive passages that create a near cinematic imagery for the reader, Glover has created a crazy romp that delivers far more than the premise would indicate.

Dark and gritty the story is more than a tale of whodunit, but will the culprits be caught and when. As you ride along, the characters display hidden characteristics and rationale for their behavior that does increase your understanding, if not empathy, for even the most dysfunctional of them all. No, the characters are not someone you would want for a neighbor, they have too little impulse control and identify too strongly with their perceptions of their powerlessness in society, but they are realistically portrayed, nearly breathing as you read.

What emerges is a story that substitutes characters and their traits for complex issues with moral and ethical themes, providing the reader a true banquet of options to mull over once the last page is turned. Glover has a style that is not sparse, but intelligently and evocatively descriptive, and each word is specifically placed for a decided reaction. That is not to say you are guided to any one particular impression, but given a series of them to form your conclusions. Twisted and complex, with roadblocks and hidden obstacles this was a book that mystery lovers will enjoy, even without the whodunit.

I received an eBook copy from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About the Author:

Beaird Glover lives in New Orleans with his wife, Kim Martin, and their two house cats. Syd and Marcy is his first published novel.